by Max Brantley
The best news that occurred while I was gone was resolution of the festering sore of University Mall. Strode Property Group, the developer of the new Midtowne retail center, emerged as the white knight, buying the property from the landowner and terminating the lease with Simon Property Group, which had allowed the property to deteriorate while it pursued hopes of another mall in western Little Rock.No terms have been disclosed on the Simon lease termination, but it had been ordered to pay some $8 million to rehab the failed mall and getting out from under that payment undoubtedly was an incentive to give up the years remaining on the land lease.
This story broke prematurelyafter the Democrat-Gazette issued an erroneous report that Simon Property was going to buy the mall. Fox 16 got a few more details from the new developer that indicates he envisions not just a "lifestyle" retail center, hopefully with a Target, but a mixed-used development that could include multi-family residential.
Demolition of the old mall could begin within two weeks, the new owner said.